Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

On tour in Corpus Christi, Texas, David Finckel posted the Cello Talks series’ final nine videos, hitting the one hundred mark and concluding his groundbreaking course in cello technique. Still a one-of-a-kind project, the Cello Talks, filmed by David in locations from Japan to Europe to Russia to Scandinavia, are viewed in growing numbers by cellists all over the world. (Photo: David with his famous pink camera that filmed virtually every Cello Talk)
in David’s words…

Sometimes, the most important things one does have not been asked for, nor are paid for, nor are necessarily well-known or high-profile components of one’s career. But what makes these projects or ideas important is that, for some reason, one feels it essential to do them.

When I was not even fifteen, I had private cello students. I learned to teach music like my father, on Saturdays at home. He had his studio and I had mine. He charged four dollars per hour and I charged two. It seemed like I was making a fortune.

My students were my age, younger, and older – some of them much older. I learned to pass on immediately what I myself was learning: one could say the turnaround time for my acquired knowledge was extremely short.

A requirement of my teaching at that early age was the ability to explain things that I barely understood or could do. I often stayed one lesson ahead of some students. I gobbled up enough expertise in theory that I could stay about a week ahead (one of my most gifted students, Michael Curry, had off-the-charts perfect pitch and that made the appearance of expertise difficult). I quickly discovered that my students progressed if I explained things clearly and simply. If I confused them, or had no clear answers for their questions, they stayed in the same place.

After I left home to go to college for a year (where I was taught or learned almost nothing), I stopped teaching and never taught regularly again. It was not that I lost interest, only that I was focused on making a performing career for myself. And the learning I did – especially in regard to technique – was mostly figured out on my own, as my great mentor Rostropovich offered only musical inspiration.

During the 1990’s I became increasingly interested in the possibility of working again with young cellists. I had opportunities to hear talented students in the summers in Aspen. They wanted to study with me, and I wanted to teach them, but I could not find a school to teach at. I offered to bring an extremely gifted and accomplished cellist to the Manhattan School but was turned down as a part-time cello teacher – they already had enough adjunct teachers. I still can’t believe that.

Since the 90’s my professional career has taken other turns – the artistic directorships have lead to being able to administrate entire education programs, serving multitudes of students of many instruments, and I have found that extremely gratifying. I also had peak experiences coaching chamber music with Isaac Stern and his stellar faculties in Jerusalem and New York.

I was teaching, but still not the cello. Chamber music coachings often lack the minutes and hours necessary to explain or solve technical problems – extra time is seldom available. It’s ultimately frustrating not to be able to be more helpful in practical ways.

So, with countless concerts, mountains of experience, and a growing sense that someday I might get hit by a bus and take it all with me, I decided to teach via the Cello Talks, without being asked, or paid, or even much noticed – for the meantime.

The Cello Talks are pretty much all I know about how to play the instrument. I’ve left it where people can get at it, and that’s what’s important to me, and hopefully, to others. If there is even one cellist out there who can play better because of something I’ve explained, it’s been worth it, and it’s been a lot of fun.

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This past week, Music@Menlo concluded its annual Winter Residency at Menlo School – a celebration of Music@Menlo’s rich educational vision. Alumni of the Chamber Music Institute and festival artistic administrator, Patrick Castillo, prepared a series of enriching programs for students at Menlo School.

in Wu Han’s words…

This past week, we had the wonderful opportunity of traveling to California for Music@Menlo’s annual Winter Residency at Menlo School. The Winter Residency provides an opportunity to bring the best of our educational resources into the classroom, giving Menlo School students the chance to absorb the rich chamber music repertoire through close interaction with world- class artists. It’s also an incredible opportunity for our Chamber Music Institute alumni to enhance their teaching skills and share their passion for chamber music with a new generation of listeners. Music@Menlo is proud to be a program of Menlo School, whose uncompromising commitment to education and dedication to the arts have created an ideal setting for Music@Menlo since the festival’s inception in 2003. Through benefit concerts and educational performances at Menlo School, the Winter Residency is truly a celebration of Music@Menlo’s educational vision. The Winter Residency brought back several outstanding alumni from the Chamber Music Institute’s International Program to take part in the week’s activities. Sean Lee, violin; Michelle Ross, violin; Areta Zhulla, violin; Eric Han, cello; and Chamber Music Institute director and pianist, Gloria Chien; all performed brilliantly in the array of concerts and events throughout the week.

One of the highlights for us was witnessing several in-class performances at Menlo School by the musicians and Music@Menlo’s Artistic Administrator, Patrick Castillo. These presentations were brilliantly prepared and executed by Patrick, and took great chamber music into several classes contextualizing the music within the framework of what each course was studying. For example, one of the classes was entitled World Religions—in this particular presentation, Patrick and the musicians focused on Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time. Written in a response to the awful atrocities of World War II, Messiaen’s own faith and deeply felt Catholicism greatly influenced this piece and how he viewed the incredible scenes around him. It was amazing to witness the engagement and interest among Menlo School students throughout these presentations. I want to thank the amazing musicians who performed so professionally and nurtured countless students through these in-class presentations. They are certainly equipped and poised to take our art form into the world and create new communities of appreciation. We would also like to thank Menlo School for being such a spectacular home for Music@Menlo, and we thank the school’s exceptional faculty for their participation in this amazing program.

In addition to all these educational events, we were thrilled to announce the 2011 Music@Menlo season, including this coming summer’s theme: Through Brahms. After many months of planning, brainstorming, and conceptualizing, it is always a fulfilling experience to see the culmination of these efforts come to fruition in front of our eager and supportive audience. This summer’s theme will explore the creative genius of one of the towering musical figures of the nineteenth century, Johannes Brahms, through the lens of the musical figures that inspired him, as well as the composers that he himself subsequently inspired. We are thrilled to be welcoming back many of Music@Menlo’s favorite artists as well as welcoming several artists who will be making their Music@Menlo debut. To learn more about the upcoming season, please visit Music@Menlo’s website: www.musicatmenlo.org

Photo Credits:  Pete Zivkov and Cynthia Yock

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